Higher waste costs might be incentive Marlborough’s wine industry needs

10:50 am on 26 September 2020

Businesses feeding trade waste into Marlborough's sewerage system could cop a "hefty" fee increase this year.

New Zealand Wine Grower general manager of sustainability Edwin Massey says an increase in trade waste fees should encourage the wine industry to cut waste to landfill

New Zealand Wine Grower's Edwin Massey says an increase in trade waste fees should encourage the wine industry to cut waste to landfill. Photo: LDR / Chloe Ranford

A Marlborough District Council report last month estimated some trade waste bills could jump by 20 percent under a new fee review. But a council spokesperson said this week the figures were a "starting point" and were expected to change.

New Zealand Wine Growers general manager of sustainability Edwin Massey said an increase in trade waste fees would "incentivise" Marlborough's wine industry to achieve its goal of sending zero waste to landfill by 2050.

"It's a good thing," he said. "It gets businesses to look at potential solutions to improve their waste management. The whole thing with waste is, 'can you reduce the amount you use, can you recycle or reuse it?' It's the basic 'Rs' of waste minimisation literature.

"We're working hard with the wine industry to consider the entire lifecycle of a product, from production right down to what to do when that product has finished being used."

He said Marlborough was an important wine region and New Zealand Wine Growers would work with its council.

The increase in fees did not come as a surprise.

The council report showed a medium-sized winery paying $126,500 in trade waste fees could see a 21 percent fee increase, or $27,000 more a year.

A benchmark small winery could be looking at a 13 percent increase in waste fees.

Calculations run on an unnamed Marlborough meat processor showed it could cop the lowest fee increase, at 9 percent, but this was still an extra $28,000 a year.

The report, presented by council operations and maintenance engineer Stephen Rooney, said the current fees did not take into account the cost of upgrading the Blenheim treatment plant, where trade wastewater went.

Trade waste levels were growing, and Marlborough's viticulture industry was the largest contributor to this.

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Marlborough's viticulture industry is the largest contributor to growing trade waste levels in the region. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Blenheim's sewage treatment plant needed to be upgraded to keep up with demand, which the long-term plan 2018-28 estimated would cost $9.6 million. The plant serves Blenheim, Renwick, Riverlands and the Cloudy Bay Business Park.

It was upgraded in 2008 after it struggled to cope with that year's wine vintage and came close to failing. The treatment plant was upgraded again in 2013 for $17m.

Its completion lined up with the last increase in trade waste fees, although fees were reviewed but not changed in 2018.

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